They are for strategy too! Using a strategy is much like using a map. You can see how you are going to get from A to B, and you can prepare yourself for the journey. If you were to hike a trail, you could pack the proper equipment, train for the climb and ensure you had enough food and water.
Imagine you set out on your hike and you start noticing inaccuracies in your map. It is taking you longer than anticipated to move from checkpoint to checkpoint and you have met many unexpected turns in your path. What do you do?
“If you get your facts wrong, you get your map wrong. If you get your map wrong, you do the wrong thing.” – Global Business Network
If you believe a map is true, it is very difficult to change course when the map is wrong; which is also true of strategy. The business environment is constantly evolving and the cognitive maps in which we trusted to lead us to our current destination are not necessary the maps that we need to move our organizations forward.
A few tips for your journey:
1. Converse with other explorers
We must constantly seek better understanding of the terrain from other explorers. Talk to others, whether they have completed the journey before or are just setting out, you can gain valuable information from the people surrounding you. Is there an easier route to your destination? A challenging portion of the trail that you’re not aware of? You don’t know what you don’t know – so ask!
2. Consider the context of advice
If you are climbing a peak and you ask someone descending how much longer it will take you to reach the summit, consider the context of his or her answer. Did they run the trail, when you are only capable of walking? Is their estimate skewed by the perception of their descent? Going down is always easier than going up.
3. Be flexible
Anything can happen! If you find the trail washed away analyze how best to move forward. Be strategic. Are you able to take the same path, but move slower and with caution? Do you need to find another route? Trudging forward blindly into chaos is never a good strategy.
4. Turning back is an option
If your skills, knowledge, equipment or the environment deters you from completing a leg of a climb, you may need to turn around. It may be unglamorous or unsatisfactory, but if going forward means that you will meet your demise, it is better to retreat and try again when you are more prepared, better trained, or better funded. Equate your strategy to climbing Everest. If you are facing white-out conditions - don’t risk your neck now. The mountain will be there tomorrow when clearer conditions are the forecast.
5. When the ground and the map differ – trust the ground
There is the plan, and then there is the journey. When reality and the plan conflict – trust reality and move forward based on your knowledge of this.